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I was thrilled to get a copy of We are the Ashes, We are the Fire!
Joy McCullough does not disappoint in this similarly veined novel. Em’s big sister, Nor is raped at a college party, and their mother has continuously told them that their stories matter. Em is adamant that Nor tells her story with the ultimate goal of obtaining justice for the wrongs that her sister has experienced.
She uses every tool in her power, including her school newspaper and social media resources to ensure that everyone knows exactly what the rapist has done. Her single-minded goal is to ensure that the DA actually prosecutes the perpetrator as opposed to let him off with a plea deal.
Unfortunately, this means that Nor also has to relieve the experience again and again. And although the jury does in fact convict the rapist, the judge delivers a sentence that is not even a slap on the hand. After the fact, it is Nor who pays the price for daring to speak out against the patriarchal society that dictates that men can take what they want.
One of the strengths of McCullough’s writing is the historical references she lays over her writing. In this book, she centers on the story of Marguerite de Bressieux. Legend has it that this French noblewoman joined the army in order to take revenge upon the men who raped the women of her household.
This is another powerful example of telling someone’s story from Joy McCullough, illuminating events that, all too often, are swept under the carpet.
If you need to speak to someone about sexual assault, find contact information here:
The following is a guide for friends or family of sexual assault: